“September is National Recovery Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the nearly 60 million Americans who identify as being in recovery from substance use and mental health conditions.” ~ Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To everyone who has ever struggled with mental illness or problematic substance use, we wish you all a Happy National Recovery Day 2023!
What is National Recovery Month?
Now in its 34th year, National Recovery Month is when we:
- Celebrate everyone who is successfully working on a personal program of recovery.
- Raise awareness about the millions of Americans still struggling with mental and substance abuse disorders.
- Offer our support to anyone who has relapsed.
- Encourage those who have not yet started their own recovery journey.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors National Recovery Month to spread the message that treatment works and people do get better.
The Theme for 2023
The theme for 2023 is “Every person. Every family. Every community.”, which is very apropos in today’s climate. Right now, more people than ever are struggling with their mental health and/or sobriety. If that includes you or someone you care about, Recovery Month lets you know that you are not alone and that help is available.
Every part of America has felt the impact of the still-worsening overdose crisis. EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who struggles with mental illness or SUD (substance use disorder). And because addiction touches us all, we all need to be part of the solution.
Substance Abuse and Recovery in America, By the Numbers
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
- Over the past year, 61.2 million Americans age 12 or older used illicit drugs. That works out to just under 22% of the population, greater than 1 out of every 5 people.
- Over 46 million people met the medical standard for a Substance Use Disorder diagnosis. That equates to 16.5% of the population, or around 1 in 6 people.
- SUD was highest among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. By far, the most-used illicit drug was marijuana.
- 52.5 million people self-report using marijuana within the past year.
- Among young adults, the marijuana usage rate is 1 in 3.
- 46% of young adults have either a SUD or a mental illness. 1 in 7 struggle with both.
- Sadly, 94% of people with SUD did not receive any treatment services.
But there IS good news – over 72% of adults who have ever battled SUD – 21 million people – consider themselves to be in recovery, as do 67% of people who have ever had a mental illness.
An Important Consideration
It is worth noting that at the exact same time that marijuana use among young people is at an all-time high, nearly half of all young adults are dealing with an addictive or emotional disorder.
That’s not a coincidence, because the human brain continues to develop until the mid-20s, making teens and young adults particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of the drug:
- Impaired Cognition
- Decreased Emotional Control
- Increased Aggression
- Lower IQ
- Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts
- Bipolar Disorder
- Feelings of Alienation
- Reduced Educational Attainment
- Higher Risk of Abusing Other Substances
Why Recovery from Marijuana Matters
People seek treatment and start recovery because their substance use or mental illness is beyond their ability to control, and as a result, their lives have become unmanageable. With so many people struggling with not only addiction but also mental illness, specifically because of marijuana, it’s vital to take seriously the harm caused by this drug.
Because there is so much propaganda about marijuana being “safe” and “harmless”, it’s easy for many people to ascribe to the misconception that “it’s only weed”. But the science and the evidence show that it’s NOT safe or harmless and IS a big deal.
For the last few years, the bigger story has been about the opioid epidemic and the still-climbing overdose death toll from prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.
But although cannabis is unlikely to cause death directly, it can kill indirectly – disease, suicide, mental illness, and abuse of other substances. For example, study after study shows that increased use of marijuana is making the opioid crisis worse.
The National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and Health shows that using marijuana as an adolescent is the greatest predictor of a future Opioid Use Disorder as an adult.
Family Recovery Support
Families working their own recovery program is essential to improve healthy outcomes for their loved ones. Attending family support meetings like Mar-anon and the Every Brain Matters Climbers meetings helps them learn recovery tools to support healthy behaviors and differentiate between enabling their loved ones and having compassion for them.
Recovery Starts with Stabilization
Some people who were once actively addicted to drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine mistakenly believe that they can still be in successful recovery if they stop using their drug of choice but keep smoking weed.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the disease of addiction works.
Substance use disorder is a disease of the brain, and ALL abused substances physically and chemically change the user’s brain and make them more vulnerable to the effects of ANY intoxicant. At best, the user is merely swapping one addiction for another, and at worst, they are setting themselves up for a relapse.
Marijuana is not proven safe and effective harm-reduction drug, and being completely free of all mind-altering drugs, including marijuana, leads to a healthier, more stable life.
Spreading the Word
Every Brain Matters supports the positive message that there is hope for anyone struggling with mental illness or addiction. With sobriety and support, recovery is possible.
It’s not easy, but it is absolutely worth it.
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